Firstly, let me apologise that this is out a couple of days later than usual, but I was on Christmas leave last Friday as I am working over New Year this year. I hope you all had an enjoyable Christmas, however and whoever you spent it with. We did, despite my mum being unable to join us as planned, as she didn’t feel well enough to travel to our house from her home in Nottingham. We did have Chris’s mum, Audrey, to stay for a few days and Sophie and her new family, Reece and his children Amber and Taylor, joined us for Christmas Day which was hugely enjoyable. We had a very tasty Christmas lunch and lots of fun and laughter playing games in our Christmas themed clothing. I was in sparkles, while Nana (Audrey), Sophie, Chris and Reece were in Christmas knitwear… I get too hot! I particularly liked the jumper we bought for Reece on our recent visit to New York – it had a drinks holder pocket on the front – it came in very handy!
After we had dropped Audrey back in Spalding on Friday, we drove across to Nottingham to give my mum her presents and have lunch with her before driving back on Friday evening.
Talking of presents, I was very lucky in receiving tickets to go and watch a live orchestra performance of the James Bond movie, Skyfall, at the Royal Albert Hall next October as well as a new pair of sunglasses which I have yet to choose. I also received this writer’s clock, which really made me chuckle and is so apt in light of my recent book deal and the deadlines I will now have to meet!
That is looking ahead to 2019, but in this week’s blog I thought I’d have a look back at some of the exhilarating highs and devastating lows that came my way in 2018.
January started well with a trip to New York for Chris and myself, accompanied by our son. It was bitterly cold and we were treated to some snow but we all absolutely loved it. Our son flew home but Chris and I flew on to Antigua for a week to ‘recover’, where we also celebrated forty years of living together! We had decided that we were going to get married and we were planning our engagement for April 1st, April Fool’s Day, but unfortunately we had to change our plans.
A few days prior, our beautiful elderly cat, Poppy, had started refusing food. She had done this before but this time she resolutely resisted all our attempts to encourage her to eat. I think she had had enough and just wanted to go to sleep. She died in my arms on the morning of April 1st, a devastating blow to all the family who had loved her so over the previous twenty-two years. She is buried in the garden and her grave is now marked by a red enamel poppy. My heart goes out to you if you have lost a much-loved pet this year.
On April 11th we invited some of our closest friends to join our family for dinner to celebrate our engagement. I absolutely love my engagement ring, designed and made with the help of the talented Alison O’Reilly. We need to have a chat about wedding bands, as the wedding is going to be on August 27th, which would have been my mum and dad’s platinum wedding anniversary. We have no firm plans yet but it will definitely be on a beach somewhere.
A couple of weeks later, the final phase of the building work started on our house. I’m not going to lie, it has been pretty tough at times, particularly six weeks without a proper kitchen, but I can honestly say the upheaval has all been worth it!
I LOVE what we have achieved (it’s not quite finished yet, as the utility room is still to be sorted) and a massive thanks has to go to our son for his help, particularly in laying the patio at the bottom of the garden next to my gym which meant we had somewhere to sit outside in all the glorious hot weather.
My 62nd birthday in June was celebrated in Brighton with Sophie, Reece and family, and my friend Natalie. Who would have thought I would have zipwired for the first time at my age… but I must say it was huge fun.
At the beginning of July , I went down to Devon to spend a few days with my friend Debbie Flint at Retreats for You. It was the writing I got done while there that helped me finish the book, which I submitted to the publisher I have now signed a three book deal with, so I owe her a debt of gratitude. I was there during England’s World Cup penalty shoot-out with Colombia… I think there may have been a bit of screaming going on! Goodness knows what her neighbours made of it all in the sleepy village of Sheepwash!
Throughout 2018, I have had what can only be described as ‘tummy’ issues! I have had just about every test possible to try and find out what was causing the problem. I now know I’m not lactose or gluten intolerant, I don’t have a bacterial overgrowth in my gut and there are no serious underlying problems in my large or small intestine. It would seem it is some form of IBS which, after all the medical investigations, I am now controlling by taking peppermint oil capsules – thank you for the advice Chloe Everton.
I’ve also had my regular chronic myeloid leukaemia check ups – I am still currently drug-free but am expecting to start on a new medication in March as the levels of the disease are on the rise again, unfortunately. I’ve been having various appointments for my post polio syndrome too. I now have custom-made insoles which although a little uncomfortable are helping the position of my left ankle when I walk.
So, I have seen the inside of a lot of hospitals this year and could have done without visiting another one on our family holiday to Javea, Spain, in August. Unfortunately, I had a fall on the second evening of our holiday (stone-cold sober, I might add) which resulted in me being carted off in an ambulance to have stitches in my knee. It did somewhat spoil the rest of my holiday, as I couldn’t go swimming.
It was while in Spain that interest grew around my manuscript and, after a minor re-write, I was offered my book deal with Bookouture, one of the most prolific and successful digital first publishers in the UK. It will be quite a punishing schedule with book 1 due for release in July, book 2 in November and book 3 in April 2020 but I’m not afraid of hard work. At least I won’t be spending quite so much time on my QVC blogs as I did over this past summer. I hope you enjoyed the series looking back over the twenty-five years of QVC UK from my point of view?
We celebrated the 25th birthday on air with a brilliant cake replica of the first item we ever sold – the VW Beetle alarm clock. Around this time we also welcomed Kathryn Goldsmith to the presenting team on my new Fashion on Friday show on the QVC Style channel at 6pm. We’ve since also welcomed Natasha Ashgar to the ever-growing team to help cover all the additional live hours on the ‘extra’ channels.
My year drew to a close with another trip to New York at the end of November. I hadn’t visited the ‘big apple’ since 1976 and now I’ve been twice in one year. It was to celebrate my son’s birthday, as he had expressed a desire to watch the New England Patriots play live. We went to a game against the New York Jets at the MetLife stadium – what a great experience. I’m not going to pretend I have a full grasp of the rules, but I understand it a bit better now than before I went.
So health-wise, it hasn’t been the best of years for me but, of course, it could have been much worse and my thoughts are with those of you battling your own health issues at the moment. I’m thrilled that my writing is going from strength to strength – thanks to those of you who have bought my recent release, Carol’s Singing, and have left lovely comments on my Facebook page @JuliaRobertsTV . I’m delighted that my daughter is happy and settled with her new family and grateful that both mine and Chris’s mum are in relatively good health for their age – 92 and 84 respectively.
And of course, it has been such a milestone year for QVC UK, celebrating our 25th birthday. Thank you so much to each and every one of you for shopping with us and here’s to a happy and healthy 2019.